It’s a previously unglamorous section of Broward that’s now turning into a destination – so much so, that it’s now attracted one of a major hotel chain’s boutique lifestyle luxury brands.
Dania Pointe, the sprawling shopping, dining and office development just south of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and east of I-95, is now home to an AC Hotel. One of Marriott’s newest brands, AC is small, with fewer than 100 around the country. The Dania Pointe AC is Broward’s second; the first opened several months ago near Sawgrass Mills.
AC Hotels aim at the boutique hotel market, something that already existed in parts of Fort Lauderdale but not really in this area, says general manager Mychal Milian.
“This is a lifestyle concept,” Milian says. “We’re the first lifestyle brand around the Fort Lauderdale airport market.” Fort Lauderdale’s airport market is a bit different than that in many cities, due to the central location of the airport. In most cities, an airport hotel is just that – a hotel that sits near the airport, miles outside of downtown and away from most major tourist destinations. But an airport near downtown and the beach makes for a different sort of airport hotel.
“It’s not a normal airport hotel,” Milian says. “This is a property that has a magnificent cocktail program. There are going to be nights with cocktail classes. We have a resort-style pool up on the fifth floor.”
Milian, who worked in lifestyle/boutique hotels in South Beach and Brickell before coming north, says what’s happening now in Dania Beach marks a change and makes the location right for a hotel like AC.
“Dania Pointe is becoming a destination in South Florida,” he says.
“Dania Beach has been primarily a pass-through city. With this development in Dania Pointe, it’s become all-in-one.
“It’s really revolutionizing this area,” he says. “We’re a new concept into this area.”
They also want it to be a place that draws locals. An apartment complex is now under construction in Dania Pointe, so the development itself will soon have residences. But Milian also envisions locals using it the way they do some Fort Lauderdale beach hotels, or some of the new hotels in Flagler Village. The hotel sells day passes with pool access. Day passes can also be used to work in the boutique lobby with WiFi and printer access. A local remote worker could, Milian says, come in for breakfast, work all day and then hit happy hour.
Tapping into that locals market is more than a fringe benefit, he says; it’s a key part of the plan. “What can make or break it is the food and beverage, because that’s where you get the locals,” he says. “The key for us is bringing locals in to experience the restaurant.”
They soon plan to roll out things like live music nights, winetastings and cocktail classes, all aimed at bringing in locals.
“We want to give them the experience they can’t get anywhere else,” he says.